NEW YORK - The designer Jeremy Scott has been in business for 20 years, owns multi-million dollar architecturally significant homes in California, dressed Katy Perry for her Super Bowl performance and regularly jets to Milan where he is also responsible for the Italian label Moschino. He has achieved this substantial global success with a design aesthetic that favors cartoon characters, retina-searing colors, garish decorations and the sense of humor of a precocious kindergartner.
Scott, who is based in Los Angeles, has built an empire on kitsch. And his spring 2018 runway show was a celebration of his two decades in fashion and an aesthetic vision that hasn't waivered since he left his home town of Kansas City to launch a career in Paris.
There is nothing particularly sophisticated lurking beneath his pop-art dresses, sparkly catsuits and gumball-embellished trousers. His designs are executed with more earnestness than arch sophistication. There's no broad but nuanced intellectual message to parse. Why Sponge Bob? Why not? The clothes speak to his tribe.
Scott's clothes are bright, shiny objects. They appeal to celebrities such as Perry and Miley Cyrus who built careers on being outrageous or unorthodox. Performers who pride themselves on wearing their independence and subversiveness as self-consciously as their glitter leotards. His clothes appeal to regular folks who don't want to be regular or get lost in the crowd. Or perhaps to those who know that no matter what they do (for better but probably for worse) they will always stand out - so why not revel in their own personal oddness.
The clothes, created by a designer who has often talked about being bullied as a kid for being gay, for being different, turn "fun" into a battle cry, into a form of rebellion. No one is going to keep me from having fun, dammit!
Sometimes you have to fight for your fun. There's nothing easy about Scott's clothes. They do not look effortless. They look considered and uncomfortable - like you'd be tugging down the hemline of his stretchy mini-dresses all night, or stuck standing all evening because the giant baubles on your pants won't let you sit down. His clothes are "street," but not mean streets.
Some of his clothes are weird. Proudly kooky. It's no surprise that a lot of people, even people in the fashion industry, look at his clothes and wonder who would wear them. But people do.
Scott gets plenty of revenue from his work with Moschino and the multitude of collaborations and one-off projects he has had over the years. But 20 years after he began, he's still catering to the weirdos and reassuring them that it's alright to stand out. It's your right to have fun; and frankly, it's essential that you do.
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